Appalachia Appalachian Food

How to Make Parched Corn

How can you eat dried field corn

Last week I shared Pap’s recipe for gritted bread made from fresh corn with you. He also showed me how to make parched corn. Parching corn was another way folks made use of the dried corn they had gathered from their fields to feed themselves and their animals through the winter months.

Granny and her Mother Gazzie and baby

Granny as a small girl with her mother Gazzie


Granny’s mother told her while she was pregnant with her she practically lived on parched corn. In later years Granny said her mother would parch corn and then go set on the steps where she’d place the corn in a little white cloth and crush it with a hammer before she ate it.

Pap with his mother and father

Pap with his Mother and Father

Pap said families would sit around at night and parch corn over the fire and then eat it as a snack-kinda like we do popcorn. He also said folks would parch corn to carry around in their pocket as snack on the go. He said it wasn’t unusual to be standing around talking and see someone pull out a little bag of parched corn to eat.

How to get the chaff off of dried corn

Pap had some field corn he had grown and dried for Granny to make hominy with. He sent me outside with some of it to shake from bowl to bowl to get the chaff off.

parching corn

Next Pap melted a little butter in a cast iron frying pan and added the corn. He kept stirring it around to make sure it didn’t burn, but browned evenly. You could hear it popping and a few kernels even popped half way open like a kernel of popcorn sometimes will. After it had browned evenly Pap salted the corn.

Parched corn

You can see the finished product. The corn tasted like popcorn kernels to me. Some were easy to chew up some were impossible. Pap said the corn they grew when he was a boy made better parched corn than what we had to work with. I can see why folks would like parched corn and even crave it. Think of a world where there was no potato-chips, Cheetos, or corn-chips. Parched corn would fit the bill for a salty crunchy snack.

I have one memory about parched corn.

Pap’s Mother, Marie, kept me when I was little. She died when I was in 5th grade so most of my memories of her are centered around the days I spent with her in her tiny house. I’d prowl around the kitchen that always seemed to smell of sweet tea and coffee while she made me something to eat, usually grits because I loved grits with sugar and butter.

I remember she was standing at the stove cooking and I asked her what she was making. She said “Parched corn. You’d like it if you’d try it.”

Have you ever had parched corn?



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  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    September 28, 2018 at 6:23 am

    See how Paul looks so much like Pap’s mother!

  • Reply
    mary Lou McKillip
    September 29, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Tipper, I have been 74 years on this earth but Miss Julie never enlightened me on parched corn Loved the old photo
    Mary Lou McKillip

  • Reply
    September 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I’ve had storebought corn nuts but not homemade parched corn. And B.Ruth, I put cheese in my grits sometimes too, but never saw anyone else do it! Thought it might just be me, cause I’ll put cheese in just about anything. Cheese and butter are my all-purpose food-improvers 😉

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    September 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

    I haven’t thought of parched corn for years! I always have loved anything concerning corn in any way–always made myself sick when the fresh sweet corn came in. I’d love to have some parched but don’t think my dental work is up to the challenge now.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    September 26, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    I have had corn nuts, they are good but very hard. I love cheese grits, yum! Never had them with sugar and milk. Love the photos!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    September 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    I used to go to the Crib and pick out several of the best ears of Hickory Cane corn, shell it de-chaf it and parch it just like Pap’s recipe. I loved it and still do when I can find someone who still raises Hickory Cane corn. I agree that well parched corn is very similar to Corn Nuts.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    One of our Country Greats died yesterday…Jean Shepherd. I really enjoyed all her music and one time she told this story: “When I was much younger, traveling around the country, we didn’t get to go to Church much. But one time our preacher held a commencement at a school house and on the way home. the preacher got pulled over by the Sheriff. The Preacher’s name was Richard and as the Sheriff was asking him if he had been drinking, he reached into the back seat, jerked the top off and said, “why Richard, this is just like Wine.” Richard lifted his hands and said “what a Miracle. He’s done it again.”
    My favorite song she done is “Tip of My Fingers”. …Ken

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    I’ve had parched corn as a kid fishin’ in Valley River way down at the tunnel, behind Buster Conley’s farm. (across from the lower end of Red Marble Road)
    But my favorite about Parched Corn so far is Ed Ammons. He stated in plain English or Mountain Dialect just how to eat Parched Corn. And I like Grits too, but with salt instead of sugar. I even salt my Oatmeal…Ken

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 26, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I used to love the parched corn, when we used a pan and butter to pop our popcorn back in the fifties.
    My Dad said they didn’t have popcorn as we know it today until he was nearly grown. He said his mother always made them parched corn. I just love the crunch! Dad said he didn’t like it much because it got in his teeth so bad.
    I had grits this morning for breakfast. Made us a bowl of cheese grits. When we have the whole breakfast deal, eggs, sausage/ham/or bacon, biscuits n’ gravy. I make regular grits with butter.
    When eating just a bowl for breakfast we stir in a bit of cheese, especially if it is a late for breakfast.
    Love grits just about anytime of day!
    Most folks that don’t like them, got their first taste at a restaurant where they were not cooked right!
    Thanks Tipper for this post!
    Now where did I put that dry corn!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 26, 2016 at 10:05 am

    I had parched corn a long time ago. It does taste like popcorn to me. You need to crush it a little while it is still hot. Seems somebody used to use a thick bottomed snuff glass for that. Seems I, being the worry wart I was then, thought the glass was going to break and cut their hand wide open.
    Parched corn ain’t something you eat outright. It’s way yonder too hard! You just waller it around in your mouth until it softens up. It’s kinda like snuff or baccer. You don’t actually chew it, you gnaw on it. The hardest kernels you spit out like watermelon seeds.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    September 26, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Mighty familiar with these CORN details!
    Great that the girl are going down to SPARTING BERG! Hope it is a great turnout!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    September 26, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I’ve had parched corn,but nowdays my wife buys it at the store.It’s called corn nuts.
    The way you ate grits,is the way we always ate rice.we ate it at breakfast with sugar,and added milk,cream or butter.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 8:31 am

    We ate parched peanuts, but not parched corn. Sounds tasty . However, it may increase your trips to the dentist for tooth repair.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

    I’ve never had parched corn. Seems like it would be hard on your teeth.
    Don, the Deer Hunters Grandmother on his father side. grew up in Judson. A town that in now under the water of the Fontana Lake.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 8:18 am

    I’ve actually seen it sold in some store I was in.. and it taste just like popcorn but with a bit more crunch, better have good choppers..

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 26, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I used to carry parched corn with me in the woods. In the pioneer era folks needed foods that were light, compact , high energy, wouldn’t spoil and were durable to carry. There were not a lot of choices that could meet all of that. I had never heard though of anyone carrying parched corn around as a snack.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 6:49 am

    You can see a definite family resemblance. I’ve always heard of parched corn but never tried it. Think I’ll have to give it a whirl.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    September 26, 2016 at 5:42 am

    I’ve never had parched corn, but do like to crunch on those partly-popped kernels from popcorn. I wonder if you were to let the kernels soak in water for a bit before parching that it might make it more likely that they’d partly pop. Maybe some reader will know.
    Parching of corn surely predates the arrival of whites to the area. A Cherokee man named Parch Corn Flour acquired a 640 acre reserve around the mouth of Alarka Creek (this was in the period just prior to 1820). Blind Pig faithful reader Peggy Lambert recently provided me with a map marking the location, which nowadays includes part of a gated community, and is partly under the waters of Fontana Lake.

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